Testing BBs for accuracy
by B.B. Pelletier
Yesterday we looked at BBs to see how uniform they were. I didn't measure or weigh them, which I normally would have if uniformity was what I was after, but what I really wanted to know was whether it made any difference on target. A lot of airgunners waste their time (I think) worrying about details that really do not matter in the end. If pellet B shoots the best, who cares that it has the largest weight variance or the greatest dimensional difference? Obviously, not the gun! Since the purpose of shooting is to hit the target, I usually cut to the chase as soon as possible. How does it do at the range?
I used a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 to test all BBs. The targets were placed at 5 meters (16.4 feet), and the range was lit properly for shooting with aperture sights. I shot offhand. Although I'm not a great rifle shooter, I can usually keep them on a dime at this range. I shot about 20 warm-up shots to get into the groove and to allow my pupils to dilate to the target light. Once I was warmed up, I shot three groups with each of the three BBs - Avanti precision ground shot, Daisy Premium Grade BBs and Crosman Copperhead BBs. The shooting was in rotation, with the first type of BB, then the second and then the third. Once the first three targets were completed, I rotated back to the first BB for target No. 4, and so on. That way, each BB got a fair break from me.
Uniformity is demonstrated
The 499 is loaded for each shot by dropping a BB down the muzzle. You can hear it roll down the precision smoothbore barrel and click to rest against a magnet at the end. How long it takes to roll down demonstrates both the size and the uniformity of the BB being loaded. Avanti BBs took the longest to roll down, ranging from 2 to 5 seconds apiece. However, there were a few that made it down in less than a second. Daisy Premium Grade BBs were all down in less than one second, with most ranging between one-quarter and one-half second to make the trip. Crosman Copperheads went the quickest, at between one-eighth and one-quarter second. That doesn't tell too much about the standard BBs, but it does indicate that the Avanti precision ground shot has the largest size variance of all. Who woulda thunk it?
Shooting the 499
The 499 is very light, so holding steady on target is more of a chore than it would be with a 12-lb. target rifle. Also, the single-stage trigger has a very long pull that doesn't help much. I tried to shoot before becoming tired in position on every shot, but holding a 3-lb. rifle is like holding nothing. I'm sure my technique was poor as a result.
I didn't go downrange to look at the targets until all shooting was finished. That kept me from biasing the results by trying harder. BB holes don't show up well in target paper. Since a lot of them were in the black, I really didn't know how it was going until the whole thing was over. I zeroed the gun with Avanti shot, and both standard BBs shot low and to the left.
All three BBs turned in great targets. I cannot say that there is a difference between them, except I did get one really great group with Daisy's Premium Grade. That group was pure luck, because the other two groups were no smaller than either of the other BBs. The largest group was made by the Avanti shot, but it's clearly a case of a bad shooter, because the other two groups are right in there with the other two BBs. The most uniform groups were shot with the Crosman Copperheads, which had the smallest cumulative group size. I guess that lays to rest any doubt about their accuracy potential. Like everything else, that was luck, too, but it demonstrates that if the shot is good, the BB goes where it should.
This group of Daisy Premium Grade BBs was the best of the session. The rest grouped about three-fourths the size of the dime, except one really bad group of Avanti shot.
My verdict is that both Daisy and Crosman BBs are equally accurate, despite how they appear. I plan on shooting the Avanti shot in the 499 from now on, simply because it is made for the gun. Maybe some day I will shoot good enough to merit it.